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November 2011

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission proposes discards ban starting from 2014, helped by new subsidies for fishers
2. Commission maps external dimension of the CFP; new "Sustainable Fisheries Agreements"
3. Council discusses future of CFP external dimension; decouple support from access fees
4. EU and Comoros discuss IUU fishing by Comoros flagged vessels
5. Commission amends catch certification under IUU Regulation 1005/2009
6. Commission publishes ex-ante evaluation of EU-Mauritius Fisheries Partnership Agreement
7. Parties ratify Protocol to the EU and the Comoros Islands Fisheries Partnership Agreement
8. EU tightens rules on porbeagle shark and harmonises rules on other elasmobranchs
9. Commission declares intent to ban all shark finning at sea as soon as possible
10. Commission proposes Black Sea TACs and quotas for 2012; turbot TAC reductions
11. Commission proposes TACs for shared fish stocks in advance of negotiations
12. EU modifies "days at sea" permitted in 2011 for trawl vessels in various EU fisheries
13. ICCAT meeting held in Istanbul; list of IUU vessels to be include vessels down to 12m
14. CCAMLR meeting held in Tasmania; launch of Antarctic Marine Protected Areas
15. EU Joint Research Centre develops predictive tracking of bluefin tuna
16. Commission proposes modest increases in 2012 guide prices for fisheries products
17. Stop fishing notices published by the Commission for several fleet segments
18. Commissioner Mrs.Damanaki exorts fishers to good stewardship of the oceans
19. In Lisbon, the Commission launches EU Atlantic Strategy for a 'blue economy'
20. IUCN reports on threatened status of Europe's 6,000 freshwater aquatic species
21. Commission approves protected designations of origin "Lough Neagh Eel".

Fish hygiene

22. Rapid alerts notified in November for 64 consignments of fishery products
23. Commission passes new regulation on permitted additives in food; comes in force in 2013
24. Commission passes regulation on food ingredients; in force at the end of 2011
25. DG SANCO reports on mission to the Faroe Islands; 700 small vessels not inspected
26. Commission extends emergency measures on bivalve molluscs from Peru
27. Commission lifts measures on additive and heavy metal testing of Gabonese fishery products
28. Commission relaxes measures on testing of residue shrimp from Bangladesh
29. Commission celebrates 5 years of Better Training for Safer Food, at a cost of EUR68 million.
30. Commission considers changes to mandatory freezing treatment for killing parasites in fish
31. Commission discusses amending regulation on food contact materials
32. EFSA agrees common approach with FAO and WHO on contaminants toxicity methodology
33. EFSA launches Applications Helpdesk Unit
34. Commission reports permitted health claims regarding foods; 4,600 claims under review
35. Commission considers allowing increased dioxin level in shrimp meal
36. Commission concerned over hexachlorocyclohexane in fish feed from France.
37. Finnish and Swedish eradication programmes for BKD and IPN to be extended

Common Fisheries Policy

1. In a speech at the Royal Academy of Sweden on the subject of "Discards - the way forward in the European Union", Mrs. Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries set out the approach to elimination of discarding in EU fisheries. She admitted that "fishermen are not the drivers of discards, but (that) we - the policymakers - are". She indicated that the main need was to find structural solutions which apply market pressures and technological innovation to help implement the proposed phased discard ban on commercial species. This will start in 2014 with pelagic fisheries, and covering all other commercial species by 2016. She also indicated that fishers will be compensated for the costs of landing "uneconomic" species by the new Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

2. In a speech to the EU's AGRI FISH Council in Brussels, Mrs. Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, explained the Commission's vision for the external dimension of the new Common Fisheries policy. Key steps will be as follows, increased commitment to data collection and applied research, new methods for improved compliance, and strengthened Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) instruments to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Commission foresees a new generation of Sustainable Fisheries Agreements (SFAs) based on best scientific advice and on the "surplus" stock rule, but the EU will require improved transparency from third countries on other fishing activities. Bilateral agreements will therefore require partner countries to provide information on all relevant fishing activities in their waters. A Human Rights clause will also be included in future agreements (although Gabon has refused to do so).

3. Following Mrs. Damanaki's speech the Council of EU Agricultural and Fisheries Ministers discussed the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy, recognising its importance in fisheries product supply and for ensuring that the EU's sustainability policy is pursued both internally and externally. The need for greater transparency on the part of third countries entering into Fisheries Partnership Agreements was widely recognised, as was the need to decouple sectoral budget support from access fees (which will allow budget support to be suspended if agreed objectives are not met). However Member States were divided in relation to the Commission's proposals to increase the contribution of vessel owners to the costs of access.

4. The EU and the Government of the Union of Comoros met within the framework of their Fisheries partnership agreement to discuss measures to fight IUU fishing by Comoros flagged vessels in the waters of West African countries. The Comoros Islands undertook to de-flag the offending vessels.

5. The Commission has passed a regulation amending the acceptable catch certification requirements under the IUU Regulation 1005/2009, in respect of electronic traceability systems for certification by the Competent Authorities in Norway and South Africa.

6. The Commission has published the Report "Ex-ante evaluation of existing conditions in the fisheries sector in Mauritius with a view to concluding a new Fisheries Partnership Agreement and protocol" undertaken by consultants for DG MARE. The Study concludes that there is a "favourable context for the conclusion of a new bilateral fishing agreement".

7. Following the ratification of the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Comoros Islands, the EU announced that it came into force on 4 November 2011.

8. The EU has modified the regulation governing the catching of porbeagle shark, considering its possible future listing under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Convention. In future EU vessels fishing in all areas and foreign vessels fishing in EU waters will be required to promptly release any accidental catches. In addition, third-country vessels fishing in EU waters are prohibited from retaining onboard basking shark, angel shark, common skate, undulate ray, and guitarfishes in certain waters.

9. The European Commission has proposed a prohibition of all shark finning at sea by EU vessels and third country vessels operating in EU waters. The measure will impact on EU longline vessels which target shark species, and will require them to land the whole fish with fins. The Commission aims to introduce legislation as soon as possible.

10. The European Commission proposed the fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Black Sea for 2012. The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes. For sprat, the EU quota proposed is unchanged, at 11,475 tonnes. The proposals concern fishing by Bulgaria and Romania.

11. The European Commission presented preliminary proposals for fishing opportunities, for 2012, for fish stocks managed together with third countries such as Norway or through RFMOs. Details are to be finalised when negotiations with third countries are completed. The measures will be discussed at the EU Fisheries Council meeting in December

12. The European Commission has regulated for changes in the "days at sea" permitted in 2011 for various trawl vessels in certain EU fisheries for cod and scallops, to account for over-utilisation of fishing days in 2010. The measure affects fleets from UK, Germany, France and Ireland. The Commission has also allowed a permanent increase in the fishing effort (no. of days at sea) of trawl vessels in ICES Divisions VIIIc and IXa, due to permanent withdrawals of the Spanish and French fleets from the relevant segment.

13. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) met in Istanbul for its 22nd Annual Meeting. The Parties discussed EU proposals for strengthened management measures in relation to Mediterranean swordfish, and tropical tunas and sharks, in line with the recommendations of the Scientific Committee. ICCAT members agreed to implement and fund an electronic bluefin tuna catch documentation (eBCD) system. ICCAT also voted to list vessels <12metres found to be operating illegally (previously only IUU vessels >20m were listed). ICCAT also agreed to close an area off West Africa to the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for bluefin tuna was unchanged at 12,900 tonnes for 2012.

14. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) held its annual meeting in Hobart, Tasmania. It considered measures to counter IUU fishing, including IMO ship identification numbers for toothfish vessels and a new transhipment notification system for krill fishing vessels. It also agreed to develop Marine Protected Areas in the Antarctic region.

15. The European Commission Joint Research Centre has developed a new habitat model which allows the potential presence of bluefin tuna to be tracked through daily updated maps, based on satellite data on oceanographic conditions (concentration of chlorophyll on the sea surface and temperature). The model will help target the implementation of monitoring and control measures.

16. The European Commission proposed 2012 guide prices for fresh and frozen fisheries products, and the EU producer price for tuna processing, which will determine the price level at which withdrawal subsidies will be initiated. The Commission proposes increases between +1% and +3% for most whitefish species and +2% for tuna.

17. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota in respect of Belgian vessels fishing for plaice, Latvian vessels fishing for northern prawn, Dutch vessels fishing for anglerfish, Spanish vessels fishing for cod, anglerfish, common sole and forkbeards, French vessels fishing for herring, Swedish vessels fishing for cod, haddock and saithe, Portuguese vessels fishing for redfish, and Danish vessels fishing for ling.

18. In a speech at the "Waste-free Oceans" conference" Mrs.Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries set out the importance of good stewardship of the oceans and the role that the EU's fishers can play in cleaning up the marine environment. As part of the EU's integrated maritime policy, the Commission is considering measures under the European Fisheries Fund to cut marine litter and rehabilitate the most affective marine areas.

19. At the end of November in Lisbon, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, presented the EU's new maritime strategy for growth and jobs in the Atlantic Ocean area, aimed at creating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in a new low-carbon 'blue economy'. A specific action plan will be developed for launch in 2013, and the Commission called on stakeholders to help design concrete projects for EU funding. A series of regional workshops and discussion groups will be launched in 2012.

20. The European Red List, a part of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, has published a report showing that a large proportion of freshwater molluscs, fish and plants are threatened. The assessment of c.6,000 species found that 44% of mollusc species, 37% of freshwater fish species, 23% of amphibians, were depleted and considered to be under threat.

21. The Commission approved the entry into the register of protected designations of origin of the "Lough Neagh Eel".

Fish hygiene

22. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 64 consignments of fishery products, including 3 consignments of molluscs and clams and 2 consignments of frozen squid from Thailand, 3 consignments of smoked salmon from Poland, 4 consignments of chilled swordfish from France and 5 consignments including canned sardines, chilled hake, fish products and anchovies from Morocco

23. The Commission has passed a regulation to amend and revise the list of the European Union list of colours, sweeteners, preservatives permitted as food additives (with E numbers) approved for use in foods, and their conditions of use. The regulation sets out permitted additives and maximum levels in different foods. Includes new provisions regarding nitrites, brown FK (previously used for smoked fish), and canthaxanthin. Also includes list of foods to which no additives may be applied. The regulation comes into force in 2013 to allow time for adjustment by industry operators. The new regulation follows the launch of a process of re-evaluation of all food additives adopted by the Commission in 2010, which is ongoing.

24. The Commission also passed a regulation to amend and revise the list of the European Union list of carriers and materials approved for use in food additives, food enzymes, food flavourings, and nutrient additives along with their conditions of use. Includes permitted preservatives and inert carriers, the maximum limits and food ingredients in which they may be applied. The regulation comes into force at the end of 2011.

25. DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on an inspection mission to the Faroe Islands in June 2011 to evaluate the controls systems for food safety of fishery products exported to the EU. The mission found that the effectiveness of the control system is undermined by shortcomings regarding inspections of small fishing vessels, official controls on fishery products and use of non-authorised additives. Approximately 700 vessels under 20 GRT had never been inspected by the Competent Authority. In addition HACCP plans were not properly implemented in 8 out of 12 processing establishments.

26. The Commission extended to the end of November 2012 the emergency measures banning the import of live bivalve molluscs from Peru. An inspection mission to Peru has found that the protective measures put in place with regard to the possible contamination of live bivalve molluscs with hepatitis A virus are still unsatisfactory. The Peruvian Competent Authority is currently developing a monitoring system for virus detection in live bivalve molluscs, but the testing method used cannot be considered reliable due to lack of validation.

27. Following a mission by DG SANCO to Gabon in 2010 to evaluate the monitoring system in place governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the Union, and the finding that controls carried out in Gabon now provide appropriate guarantees to allow imports of fishery products, intended for human consumption, the Commission has passed a decision revoking the protective measures in place since 2008. These required that all consignments of fishery products be tested to ensure compliance with the relevant limit values for heavy metals and sulphites.

28. Following the detection of the presence of residues of veterinary medicinal products and unauthorised substances in crustaceans imported from Bangladesh in 2008, the Commission installed safeguard measures requiring testing of 20% of consignments of fishery products. Following a period in which tests showed that the measures were no longer required, the Commission has passed a Regulation revoking the requirements, but requiring that where official samples are taken, the consignment should be detailed pending results

29. The Commission published a press release announcing the five year anniversary of the Better Training for Safer Food initiative (BTSF), which has trained almost 329,000 professionals from 180 countries since 2006, at a cost to the EU taxpayer of €68 million.

30. The Commission considered changes to the freezing treatment for killing viable parasites in fishery products intended for human consumption; an updated text for a regulation amendment will be distributed shortly.

31. The Commission discussed amending the Commission Regulation on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, following recommendations and new risk assessments from EFSA. DG SANCO has updated its web pages on food contact materials, for greater clarity. It now includes full links to legislation, guidance notes and registration procedures.

32. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) published joint guidance for a harmonised Total Diet Study (TDS) approach for dietary exposure of chemical substances. The approach involves selecting, collecting and analysing commonly consumed food purchased at retail level, processing the food as for consumption, pooling the prepared food items into representative food groups and analysing them for harmful and/or beneficial chemical substances, and will ensure a common basis for recommendations on maximum levels of contaminants in foods.

33. EFSA announced the launch of a new Applications Helpdesk Unit to support the preparation and submission of applications for risk assessments from industry, which now account for 40% of the Authority's resources, and two-thirds of its scientific outputs.

34. The Commission reported on progress with refining the list of permitted health claims regarding foods. The Commission has consolidated claims submitted by Member States into a list of approximately 4,600, which were assessed by EFSA. Six sets of opinions have been published covering about 2,760 health claims. A further 1,550 claims on "botanicals" are awaiting assessment by EFSA.

35. The Commission discussed the possibility of increasing the current maximum level of dioxins in shrimp meal in feed for non-food producing animals, (amendment to Annex I to Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 May 2002 on undesirable substances in animal feed). The Committee also discussed the EFSA statement on oral toxicity of endosulfan in fish, in view of possible amendment to the existing maximum level for endosulfan in fish feed. Decisions are pending comments from Member States.

36. The Commission discussed recent RASFF notifications related to non-compliant levels of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) in fish feed from France.

37. The Commission discussed the extension for another 2 years of trade restrictions linked to the Finnish and Swedish eradication programmes for BKD and IPN. Ireland notified an outbreak of OsHV-1 in oysters.

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